African maize stem borer

Also known as the African sorghum stem borer

Damage to plants

  • Foliage consumption, particularly in the whorl.
  • Destruction of the growing point in the whorl, causing a symptom known as "deadheart"
  • Extensive feeding on tassels, ears, and stems.


  • Young larvae feed on foliar tissue in the whorl, leading to perforations and 'window pane' damage in unfolding leaves.
  • Older larvae burrow into the stem, which can result in crop lodging.
  • Holes in the stem, which are used by adult moths to emerge.
  • Dead heart.

Factors favoring pest development

  • Young maize crops (plants less than two months old) are attractive for oviposit.
  • Zero-till agriculture.

Geographical distribution

  • Found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, generally above 500 masl. However, the species can live in altitudes ranging from sea level to above 2000m.

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